Saturday, June 8, 2013
That submission to pure wanting requires abandoning your logical brain, throwing yourself into the overpowering forces of all-out lust and hoping you'll come out okay on the other side. I think there's a kind of bravery in that. Maybe that's what is so intimate about sex with another person--you're both jumping into the void together.
It's that line between control and loss of control that's so interesting to me about artist Clayton Cubitt's video series "Hysterical Literature." The stark black-and-white videos each feature a woman sitting a table reading aloud from a book of her choosing. However, under the table, there is an unseen person equipped with a back massager who is assigned to distract the reader as she reads.
The women try to keep it together and keep reading, but as they continue, they begin to show signs of losing focus with a little gasp or a quick intake of breath or wiggling in their chair for a better position. They fight to keep their composure, but finally they have to give in, toss their heads back with a kind of "fuck it" and ride the orgasm.
Here, see for yourself below with Stormy reading from Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho."
In an interview in Salon, Cubitt discussed the idea for the series and his artistic vision.
"I’ve long been fascinated with the concept of control and authenticity in portraiture, especially in these modern times of personal branding, Facebook self-portraits and incessant Instagram self-documentation. What is left for the portraitist to reveal? How can we break through to something real?...These are all attempts to see something they’re not trying to show me.
At the end, the women are instructed to re-state their names and the book they've read from. Some aren't able to do it. Cubitt said of their post-filming interviews:
"It’s quite interesting to hear about what was going through their mind as they started to lose track of what they read and surrendered to their bodies. They talk about it almost like it becomes a religious trance, and they usually have no recollection of the last half of the reading."
What do you think?
Portrait of a woman. Lina Corsino, Emilio Sommariva 1933
Thanks to Trace, who reminded me of this series on the IBWMW Facebook page.